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Cheney's newest restaurant is OK with using 'mister'

M.R. Piggy’s offers unique opportunity in barbecue dining


Last updated 1/24/2019 at 4:57pm

For starters, the “M.R.” in the name of Cheney’s newest restaurant stands for the first names of the two men behind the venture — Mitch and Roger — not the prefix “Mister,” although they’re fine if you want to use that.

M.R. Piggy’s BBQ Cafe opened Jan. 7 in the location of the former Cheney dining institution Willow Springs, and business was frenetic from practically the moment the “Open” sign lit up, owner Mitchell Zand and Roger Droivold said. Things have calmed down a bit, but still remain busy as locals find a family-style place to dine that offers something different from other eateries.

Like the sign says, M.R. Piggy’s specializes in barbecue and barbecue only. Virtually everything on the menu is smoked in their own commercial smoker onsite — including the macaroni and cheese.

The food genre comes from Zand whose father has always smoked meats, mother who has developed a wine-based smoke marinade and a rub, and a brother that owns eight barbecue restaurants called “Adam’s Rib” in the Western Oregon area.

“So, the barbecue has been in the family blood for years,” Droivold said.

Both men have extensive background in the food business. Droivold began working in food service at the age of 14, working 28 years in food service in the health care field as well as the restaurant and tavern fields.

Zand attended the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland, specializing in baking and pastries but also taking business management classes as well. After graduation, he worked for an organization and the Clackamas School District teaching culinary education to youth facing life challenges.

The pair met while Droivold lived in Oregon, with Zand eventually moving to Worley, Idaho where Droivold lives, finding work at the Coeur d’Alene Casino where he learned through a manager some of the finer points of buying and running a restaurant. The two originally considered going in to business together with a food trailer, but changed their minds when Droivold saw the vacant Willow Springs on a real estate site, and took Zand on a trip to see the place.

“When I walked through the door, I felt like the community had lost something,” Zand said. “This building talked to us.”

“Yeah, we both sensed it,” Droivold added.

Seeing a void in Cheney for a family sit-down restaurant like the former Willow Springs, the pair jumped at the chance for the building. Eventually they hope to offer breakfast, but right now are focusing on lunch and dinner while they get established.

M.R. Piggy’s currently offers more lunch-style fare like smoked BBQ chicken and pork sandwiches. The smoked sausage is a German Kielbasa that has proven popular, as has their fish and chips.

Beginning this week, Zand and Droivold will start offering a traditional half-rack of ribs and chicken dinners, with a full rack of ribs as an option. The ribs, as with the pork sandwiches, are treated with a rub created by Zand’s mother, along with a wine-based marinade prior to smoking.

“I’m telling you, when it came out of the smoker, we could never get enough of it,” Zand said. “Rib night at our house couldn’t come soon enough.”

The chicken is a beer-marinated creation of Zand’s, who added that the alcohol in both marinade’s cooks off, leaving behind the flavor of the other ingredients. Eventually, they hope to add smoked salmon to the dinner menu.

All entrees at M.R. Piggy’s come with two sides, one of which are smoked beans like no other in the region. The pinquito beans are a specialty of the house from the Santa Maria Valley in California.

“They’re grown in the Valley and we have them shipped here,” Zand said.

The small, pink bean bakes in its own sauce, Zand said, which gives them a different flavor than traditional beans baked in sugar and molasses. Zand adds onions, poblano chili peppers and some spices.

“Bean sales are up,” Droivold said. “People are catching on. No one really knows them around here.”

M.R. Piggy’s entrees are priced from $10.99 – $12.99, with starters such as chicken wings to Piggy Nachos ranging from $8.99 – $10.99 and all sides just $3 each. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Tuesdays – Saturdays, with both Zand and Droivold saying they hope groups will seek them out for special dinners and meetings in the upstairs banquet room.

John McCallum can be reached at


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